Peru Holidays: An Overview

Mentioning a holiday to Peru almost inevitably evokes images of Machu Picchu and the Inca Empire. Lovely as they are, there's SO much more to the third largest country in Latin America.

Image of Will Boocock
Image of Saskia Wilson

Saskia and Will are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • Peru undoubtedly gives one of the best introductions to South America, and thus is a great starting point for explorations throughout the continent
  • The country has a fascinating ancient history, colonial heritage and colourful indigenous culture
  • Because there's every type of landscape in one place - colonial cities, beaches, the Amazon rainforest, the soaring peaks of the Andes mountains, lakes and even dramatic desert scenery

Luxury Holidays to Peru: the Detail

Machu Picchu and Cusco rightly claim the plaudits as Peru's luxury holiday highlights, and when you arrive it's pretty easy to see what all the fuss is about, but spectacular as they are, the Inca era accounts for just a small fraction of Peru's history. The country contains many historic sites from previous civilisations, as well as fine colonial-era towns such as the UNESCO World Heritage town of Arequipa, hip beach resorts that are perfect for surfing, marvellous mountain scenery and even Amazon rainforest thrown in for good measure.

That's a lot to take in, but after several research trips in recent years our Latin America team knows Peru extremely well. Aside from arranging luxury holidays tailored to include Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, and Machu Picchu - either by train through the Sacred Valley or on foot along the Inca or Salkantay Trails - we can also advise on the best itinerary to take in what is one of the most richly biodiverse countries on earth. Habitats range from Amazonian jungle to snow-clad Andes, home to famous species such as the puma and condor, and make this one of those special countries where everything is under one roof, so to speak. The mysterious Nazca Lines, high-altitude Lake Titicaca, the upper reaches of the Amazon and the bustling metropolis of Lima are amongst the country's other attractions we can weave into any luxury holiday itinerary.

Did you know

  • Two-thirds of Peru is covered in prime Amazon rainforest
  • Peru has three official languages: Spanish, Quechua and Aymara
  • Pisco Sour is Peru's national drink, made of Pisco brandy, lemons, sugar water, egg whites and ice, finished with bitters
  • About 1,881 bird species can be seen in Peru
  • Peru is home to the highest sand dune in the world, the Cerro Blanco at 3,860 feet
  • Cuy (guinea pig) is a common meat used in Peruvian meals

And while we're on the subject of Lima, the capital is the centre of a wonderful resurgence in Peruvian cuisine, centred around the trend to cerviche - marinated raw fish with lime juice (much better than it sounds!) - and Pisco sours, a cocktail to rival caipirinhas and mojitos as Latin Americas favourite tipple.

One thing previously missing from Peru's luxury holiday armoury was a decent coastal option to provide a full house of beach, city, mountains, desert and jungle, but the emergence of Mancora as a hip new surf and social scene hangout means visitors really have got the perfect combo. What are you waiting for?


Top picks for Peru

La Casona

La Casona

Cusco

Surrounded by the stunning Andes mountains, La Casona is a small luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Cusco.

Where to stay

Aria Amazon on the Amazon River

Aria Amazon

The Peruvian Amazon

The Aria Amazon is THE way to explore the beautiful and intriguing river views of the Peruvian Amazon, while reclining in the lap of luxury.

Where to stay

Sunset in Mancora - Peru

Mancora

Peru

Mention Peru and most people will visualise dramatic Andean scenery, the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu or the mysterious Nazca lines. What they almost certainly won’t be thinking about is hip and happening beach resorts and a surfing and social scene to rival that in other Latin American hotspots such as Buzios or Jose Ignacio.

Where to go

1 day Inca Trail

1 day Inca Trail

Machu Picchu

Hike a section of the Inca Trail from a point known as Kilometre 104, because of its location on the road between Cusco and Machu Picchu.

What to do

Dining Cart on the Belmond Andean Explorer

Belmond Andean Explorer

Cusco

The Belmond Andean Explorer, set to launch in May 2017, is South America’s first ever luxury sleeper train. Departing from Cusco and making stops at Puna, Cola Canyon and Arequipa (a UNESCO listed world heritage site) the train traverses the Andes in serious style.

Where to stay

Uros Puppet Dollhouse

Lake Titicaca

Peru

Well worth a couple of days' spent enjoying the scenery and experiencing the rural tribal communities living at the lake.

Where to go

Food tour with Penelope Alzamora

Food tour with Penelope Alzamora

Lima

Peruvian food is so hot right now, and we offer the chance to enjoy a morning taste tour of the capital with chef Penelope Alzamora, a Liman local whose foodie parents and nanny introduced her to traditional Peruvian cuisine at an early age.

What to do

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba exterior at night

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba

The Sacred Valley

In the formidable foothills of the Andes lies The Scared Valley, which once formed the heart of the Inca Empire. Built among the area’s picturesque villages and colonial towns, the Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba Hotel is set in a destination rich in history and charm.

Where to stay

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

Cusco

Originally built in 1592 on the site of the Inca Amaru Kuala Palace, the building was a monastery up until 1995, when it was converted into a hotel.

Where to stay

Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

Machu Picchu

Frankly, thanks to its location as the only hotel next to Machu Picchu, this could be a hole in the ground and we’d still recommend it.

Where to stay

Paths through the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley

Peru

Mentioning a holiday to Peru inevitably evokes images of Machu Picchu and the Incan Empire, but the stunning landscapes of the lesser known Sacred Valley, are certainly not to be missed.

Where to go

Condor Cross, Peru

Visit to Condor Cross

Arequipa & Colca Canyon

After the albatross, the Andean condor has the second largest wingspan (as much as 11.5ft) of all living flying birds, and we know the best place in the Andes to see these magnificent birds gliding on thermals.

What to do

The Peruvian Amazon

The Peruvian Amazon

Peru

Whether you stay in a lodge or cruise the Amazon's tributaries on a boat, the wildlife-packed rainforest is unforgettable.

Where to go

Colca Canyon River

Arequipa & Colca Canyon

Peru

After a stay in Peru's pleasant 'White City', the adventure sports in the beautiful Colca Valley region beckon.

Where to go

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas

Cusco

Housed in a former palace and convent, Palacio Nazarenas exudes the history and culture of Cusco with original features such as Inca stones still very much in tact.

Where to stay

City of Cusco

Cusco

Peru

Cusco is the gateway to Machu Picchu and the beautiful Urubamba Valley - few visitors will skip this fascinating city when touring Peru.

Where to go

A tour of Larco Museum with the curator

A tour of Larco Museum with the curator

Lima

The Larco Museum in Lima contains an astonishing 45,000 artefacts dating from the pre-Columbian (basically pre-European) period, and including an impressive collection of Inca crowns and other ornamental pieces decorated with gold and precious stones.

What to do

Discover the Amazon

Discover the Amazon

The Peruvian Amazon

If there was a way to explore a rarely visited area of Peru’s Manu National Park, gain a once in a life time experience and give something back to the environment and wildlife at the same time, then Crees Tours is absolutely the way to discover the Amazon.

What to do

Mountain Lodges of Peru

Mountain Lodges of Peru

Machu Picchu

The idea behind these lodges is to offer trekkers the opportunity to experience the essence of adventure without compromising on creature comforts.

Where to stay

Pisac Market

Pisac Market

Machu Picchu

In addition to the beautiful sweeping landscape and strong Incan heritage and archaeology of the Sacred Valley region, this is also a good place to enjoy colourful indigenous markets.

What to do

Machu Picchu panoramic

Machu Picchu

Peru

An UNESCO World Heritage Site and a New Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu is a must see for every avid traveller.

Where to go

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo

Machu Picchu

Set in the middle of tropical vegetation, The Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo is a mini village of luxurious whitewashed and terracotta casitas nestling into terraced hills.

Where to stay

Paracas Coastline

Paracas, Nazca & Ica

Peru

One of the world's most mysterious destinations, and well worth exploration.

Where to go

Atemporal

Atemporal

Lima

The team behind Atemporal have coined the term 'hotelito' to define this boutique bolthole, located in the heart of Miraflores.

Where to stay

An excellent start - Everything has gone perfectly.

Thank you for your letter and for all the arrangements. As always everything has gone perfectly since we arrived and we have thoroughly enjoyed our first day with our guide who is absolutely delightful.

Mandy

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